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EPDs and HPDs Can Help Facility Managers Choose Paints

First of a 3-part article on using new sophisticated tools to select paint products

By Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor   Paints & Coatings

OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Use Both EDPs/HPDs and Green Product Certifications When Choosing PaintPt. 3: Using 'Red List' of Chemicals Wisely When Selecting Paints
EPDs and HPDs Can Help Facility Managers Choose Paints

Paint product selection is becoming more science than art these days. That’s because more and more sophisticated tools for selection are available. This includes the tried-and-true green product certifications for paints, like UL’s EcoLogo, the Master Painters Institute’s X-Green (Extreme Green), and Green Seal’s GS-11. But increasingly, selecting paints means considering documents called Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs).

An EPD is a standardized document that shows all the environmental impacts — like energy use, water use, ozone depletion, and global warming potential — of an individual product based on a life-cycle assessment. EPDs are based on ISO standards and come in three levels of detail, but these days, Type III, which is based on ISO 14025, is what facility managers should look for (and will generally find). Whereas a Type I is a self-disclosure type of EPD, and therefore less credible and comprehensive, a Type III is a full third-party-verified, life-cycle assessment document.

HPDs are essentially lists of product ingredients, including any hazards facility managers need to be aware of. They are based on an open standard developed by an organization called the Health Product Declaration Collaborative.

In both cases, manufacturers provide these documents to their customers in the spirit of being open and honest about what’s in their products and how they’re made. EPDs and HPDs are becoming increasingly important factors in product selection, partly because the newest version of LEED — LEED v4 — offers points for using HPDs and EPDs in product selection. Before LEEDv4, only the most forward-thinking manufacturers would go through the considerable time and cost to have EPDs and HPDs available for their products.

“The value of EPDs and HPDs is transparency,” says Daniel Pedersen, vice president of science and standards for Green Seal. But facility managers shouldn’t (and really, can’t) rely on EPDs and HPDs alone, or even first, says Pederson. Indeed, as EPDs and HPDs have become more widely available, the question for facility managers is how to use them and their detailed data as part of the overall product selection process, without overwhelming themselves with material science and organic chemistry.

Experts agree that the best strategy for selecting paint products is, first, to understand the organization’s priorities. And one thing every facility manager can be sure of: Performance is a high priority for the organization.

“Performance is the biggest issue,” says Davis Kyle, executive vice president with the Master Painters Institute. “You want to develop criteria so that your story when evaluating products is consistent. There’s no point in putting paint on the wall that has to be re-done in three months.”

While EPDs and HPDs are great at detailing environmental benefits and hazards, they don’t necessarily deal with product performance itself. So the big benefit of considering green product certifications, says Pedersen, is that they do all the heavy lifting for you in terms of ensuring that a product meets particular performance criteria. “When you buy a product that’s certified, you know it works,” he says. “As a tool for making decisions, green product certifications make the decision much easier.” For instance, for interior paint products to get Green Seal GS-11 certification, they must meet minimum performance standards for adhesion, applicability, and other metrics.

As well, using products that meet GS-11 criteria can also garner LEED points.

“You can be confident when you choose a product certified by a green standard that it’s a leadership product for environment and human health,” says Pedersen.

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  posted on 1/27/2016   Article Use Policy